Memories We Share – Part 2
Dying alone, was never meant to be
Let me put my arms around you
Tell your fears and hopes to me
We have been together
For as long as I remember
And will be so now as we journey …
Down The Dying Path
My husband has COPD - Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease – and has just this week been accepted for Hospice care. Medicare guidelines state that to be accepted, one must have a diagnosis of a terminal disease that is expected to end their lives within six months or less.
We have moved in together again, this time, into the living room, where your lift chair sits at just the right angle for you to watch old westerns and episodes of “Deadliest Catch” on television. This couch that was donated is one God send of many for me so that I have a place to lay close by your side instead of on the floor or that horrible love seat I had purchased that was such a bargain, a double recliner of sorts with a steel frame that hits right in my lower back or on my hip depending on which uncomfortable position I chose.
With your head elevated in your new recliner lift chair, courtesy of Hospice, you are able to breath a bit easier and as you are able to doze, I am able to relax and take some much needed time for myself so that I will be refreshed when you awake.
It doesn’t seem possible that we first moved in together 24 years ago this month of July in 1987. I was your mid-life crisis, your friends liked to claim, a strawberry blonde, 113 pound, five foot five bundle of energy, raw nerves and a shattered heart. You, with your eyes to get lost in and ready smile, were just what I needed although I sure wasn’t convinced of it at the time. Having come out of an extremely abusive relationship just a about a year before we met, remember how distrusting I was? I’m sure I don’t have to remind you because you paid for the hell I went though with another man for months after we started seeing each other and it wasn’t until that night we sat talking in your truck that I realized what I meant to you. You had a few drinks of Jack and Coke that night and as you reached toward me to caress my face, I flinched out of pure habit. You asked me if your drinking scared me that bad and if I thought you would ever hurt me. When I said I didn’t know, you quit from that night forward. It still took me three months or better to believe you had really quit.
Since we lived and worked together 24/7 you’d think after all of this time we would have run out of things to talk about. Far from true, though isn’t it? I can interrupt a favorite tv show fifteen times with my chatter to this day and you have learned that pretending to listen does not count. When I’m working at the computer and you wander in and sit down I’ve learned to close the screen and give you my complete attention as well. These things took time to learn and it has taken time to understand what is important to each of us. Self respect and mutual respect has become our number one priority, I believe. We have grown separately and together, now so intertwined that you don’t even have to say, “Hey, I’m getting a little hungry.” I sense it and produce not only food but what you were thinking of having most of the time. I love how I’ll be in the kitchen and you’ll come in and put your arm around my waist and tell me it smells good and you were just about to ask when we were going to eat.
It’s funny, no one from your past, certainly, and few now, would ever use the words tender or sensitive to describe you but you are. Even in the beginning of our relationship when we would go to the town you came from, where you hung out with your friends and had favorite places to haunt, you would sense my insecurity and hold my hand the entire time or slip your arm around my waist and pull me close to you. You loved showing me the shops you frequented looking for lost treasures and my history of junk shop exploring fit together so well. We had so many wonderful days building first your collection and then starting an antiques company together. And the auctions! We became such regulars and every other regular knew if one of us was bidding and quit, it wasn’t time to relax because the other was more than likely to pick it up again. We’d reward each other with hugs or a kiss when we won and wherever we went people looked for two, not one opponent.
So it is now. This whole death thing, we don’t fight it but we do keep it at bay as we squeeze out every last second of our time together. I am only a few feet away and even as your oxygen deprived body slips into frequent slumber, you open one eye to see where I am and how I am. You ask, knowing before the tears fall down my face and pouted lips say, “I don’t want to do this, I can’t, I don’t know how!”, that I am in need of your arms around me and you hold and comfort me and tell me we will learn how, together.